The Graveyard Tales
by Max Bowen
It didn't matter how fast you could run, or how good a fighter you were. Your sharpshooting skills meant dick and the fact you could drive better than a wheelman for the Mafia was meaningless. In the end, they always got you.
No one knows how it started. Maybe a chemical accident, maybe a radioactive meteorite. Someone suggested infected monkeys, but we all knew that was a steaming load. Maybe one of those government experiments gone horribly wrong, like in the X-Files. You know, the ones where Mulder spends hours combing through government archives searching for "the truth" as he calls it, while Scully just rolls her eyes and wonders what she could have done that was so horrible as to deserve this loony toon for a sidekick.
Anyhow, no one knew how it started. But they all knew how it ended.
It originated in Maine, of all places. I mean, what's in Maine, besides deer and maple syrup? Apparently the cause of this waking nightmare, because all experts agree, that was Ground Zero. At first people attributed the attacks to wild animals, despite the accounts the assailants were noticeably furless. Any reports it was people doing the biting were dismissed as shock or hysteria.
I guess I can forgive people their initial speculation. Think about it, if someone told you the dead had arisen and were eating the flesh of the living, would you immediately trust them and grab a shotgun or politely give them directions to the nearest asylum?
Even with all the weird stuff we see on television, people are still naturally skeptical, even when the truth rises up and bites them in the rear (so to speak).
By the time the truth came out, it was too late. These things spread like a plague. Anyone they bit but didn't eat (it was weird, like they knew they had to propagate the species) became a zombie, and what started with a single sick hiker in Brownfield exploded into a shambling horde of millions.
These things, they were mindless. All they wanted to do was eat. Begging didn't help. How could you reason with something that for all intents and purposes was an eating machine?
Short answer was, you couldn't. And that left only one option. Killing them.
Yeah, good luck with that.
Ironically, though these things were mindless, destroying the brain was the only way to stop them for good. Anything else, it would only slow them down at best. You might think making a head shot is easy, especially when these things move so slowly and don't have the presence of mind to duck. But when you're an untrained civilian with a gun you're never even held before let alone fired, you have a better chance of hitting the moon than the head.
The police were the first line of defense, and they fell pretty fast. For people used to dealing with skateboard punks, low-level drug dealers and abusive spouses, an army of walking corpses was a little out of their jurisdiction.
The National Guard and the Army were next, but all their combat experience and high-tech weapons just meant they took longer to die. Conventional tactics were useless against this enemy. They didn't come in waves, or squads, or battalions. It was like an endless flood of zombies. No strategy, no fear, no surrender, just rotted teeth and desire.
Within a few days all of New England was taken.
A week after Mr. James Patterson of Brownfield, Maine came to Bridgton Hospital complaining of a fever, the entire eastern coast had become a smorgasbord for the undead. Nuclear options were considered, but dismissed as being too risky.
As one politician put it, "To wipe out this threat, we would have to use every warhead in our arsenal, and the fallout would surely kill those not infected. Where exactly do we benefit?"
12 days, and the president was declaring a state of emergency and advising people to head for the mountains or barricade themselves in a place with a decent food supply. He tried to maintain calm, but hearing the voice of a 56-year old veteran with a Congressional Medal of Honor crack like a 12-year-old hitting puberty meant only one thing.
Help wasn't coming. We were on our own.
In an act of phenomenal courage, a squad of fighter pilots wiped out every airport they could find before being brought down by their fellow fliers. Other people took the cue and destroyed the smaller facilities. There were those who would rather die and take the plague with them then see it visited on others.
It would seem those others had the same idea. Canada and Mexico sealed their borders, and posted an army to make sure the plague stayed where it was. Not that the sight of all those soldiers, machine guns and tanks was going to deter the undead when a meal was so close at hand, or the living when safety was just a hop, skip and a border jump away. Before too long, the bodies of dead refugees were starting to outnumber the fallen zombies.
The rest of the world, our "allies," swooped in with bombers to level any airfield we didn't. Gunships and subs were stationed with orders to sink any U.S. vessel that tried to make a break for it. They apologized and said their prayers were with us, but they had to protect themselves first and foremost.
Frankly, I can't say as I blame them. Which doesn't mean I had any pity for the immigrants who were beaten to death in the Foreigner Riots after their homelands wrote us off.
With the undead doing their best to wipe us out inside, and the rest of the world hoping to lock the cure firmly within our borders, it wasn't long before almost the entire population of America, now known as the Graveyard, was nothing but a statistic.
But there were those like me, people who didn't fancy the idea of turning into some zombie's bowel movements or becoming a mindless demon. We were going to survive, and if we had to bust the brainpan of every walking coffin stuffer to do it, so much the better.
This is our story.